It has been quite a while since I first published exsheets – a package for creating exercise sheets with LaTeX – in Juni 2012. Since then it has gained a user base and a little bit of popularity as the number of questions on shows. User questions, bug reports and feature requests improved it over the time. It still has a version number starting with a zero, though, which in my versioning system means I still consider it experimental. This is due to several facts. It lacks a few features which I consider essential for a full version 1. For one thing it is not possible to have several kinds of exercises numbered independently. Using verbatim material such as listings inside questions and solutions is not possible and the current workaround isn’t that ideal either. One request which dates back quite a while now was to have different types of points to questions… All of those aren’t easy to add due to the way exsheets is implemented right now. As a consequence I wanted to re-implement exsheets for a long time. And that is what I have done in the last month. Internally this completely changes how the package works. Unfortunately this also has an impact on the user interface. The new implementation will not be compatible with the old one. For this reason I decided to publish the new implementation as a new package. It will be the official successor of exsheets which then will be considered obsolete and will only receive bugfix releases any more. The new package will be called xsim – eXercise Sheets IMproved. Right now the first version 0.1pre-1 seems to be usable but requires testing. So I invite everyone interested in testing the package and its features. As a teaser:
  • verbatim material is now allowed,
  • having different types of exercises (numbered independently or sharing a counter) is possible,
  • having as many different types of points as wanted is possible,
  • the styling possibilities are even bigger than with exsheets as users can define the layout from scratch if they wish,
  • tagging questions with different types of tags (plain tags, difficulty levels, topics,…) and selecting exercises using those tags,
  • collecting exercises into collections and printing the collections anywhere in the document is possible
It does have a preliminary manual which is not quite complete, yet. But the github repository where you can find and download the package also contains an example file which demonstrates some of the features.
Picture: © Henry Klingberg/pixelio

8 thoughts on “Improving exsheets

  1. Kuo Kan Liang says:

    I love exsheets and will definitely give xsim an extensive try. Thanks for the efforts. You have made my life as a professor a great lot easier. I think you still will, with xsim.

    1. Clemens says:

      Thanks. Let me know if you miss something… I hope to have the manual finished till the end of the week.

  2. Marcel says:

    Hello Clemens,

    i typeset my exams and class works with exsheets. At the holidays i would test xsim and create a template for my use. I’m reading the doc now and make a “issue” on github with my notes.

    Btw: my teacher colleagues are fascinated of my (now: exsheets – soon: xsim) exams.

    Your support is so great. I would do a donation for your terrific work! Thank you!

    1. Clemens says:

      Thanks! This is indeed helpful! 🙂

  3. Mamoun rajab says:

    Hello, Dear Clemens, Am wondering, why the xsim codes complicated compere with Exsheet?
    and in Exsheet we can do many design for points Compared with xsim-
    Best regards

    1. Clemens says:

      xsim is a lot more flexible than exsheets was. It allows any layout that you want. However, more flexibility in this case almost necessarily means more complexity and hence is more complicated to some people.

      With exsheets I repeatedly got requests for different layouts that were not possible until I changed some innards of the package. This is now resolved in xsim.

      One of the core ideas in xsim is that users define their own styles (in a package or an xsim style file) and use that style in their actual documents.

  4. M. Friedl says:

    ich nutze Exsheets, um die in Deutschland übliche Nummerierung der Teilaufgaben in Zeilen statt in Spalten zu erreichen.
    Jetzt führt aber die gleichzeitige Verwendung des (alten) pictex-Pakets zu einer Fehlermeldung.
    Die einfachste Lösung wäre, wenn ich das Exsheets Paket einfach durch xsim ersetzen könnte. Deshalb meine Frage, ob xsim die gleichen Funktionalitäten und das gleiche Layout wie Exsheets zur Verfügung stellt?
    Falls Sie sich mehr Zeit für das Problem nehmen wollen, kann ich gerne versuchen ein Minimalbeispiel zu schicken.
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    Martin Friedl

    1. Clemens says:

      Grundsätzlich lässt sich mit xsim jedes beliebige Layout erreichen. Der Aufwand hängt vom gewünschten Layout und den Details ab.
      Allerdings ist es so gut wie unmöglich, hier in der Kommentarspalte brauchbare Code-Beispiele zu zeigen. Das Manual von xsim enthält jedoch zahlreiche Beispiele…

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